Premier League icon Dimitar Berbatov has laid out an uninspiring set of blueprints for how Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton can end a decade of misery and beat Liverpool on Saturday.
The Toffees host their inner-city rivals at Goodison Park this weekend looking to claim a first win in precisely 10 years, and maintain their unbeaten start to the season that sees Everton top the league standings by three points.
Ancelotti’s men have mustered four wins from four in fine fashion having scored the joint-most goals (12), whilst also boasting the best disciplinary record with just two yellow cards to date, per WhoScored.
Saturday’s visitors have been marginally more shy in front of the net with 11 goals, but a humbling 7-2 loss to Aston Villa sees Jurgen Klopp’s side sit fifth in the table with the second-worst defensive record – only newly-promoted West Brom (13) have conceded more than Liverpool (11).
Berbatov expects the goals to continue hitting the Liverpool net this weekend having backed Everton to end their decade of misery with a 2-1 win, but how the former Manchester United striker – who scored a hat-trick against the Reds in 2010 – expects the Blues to achieve the result will leave Toffees supporters rather underwhelmed.
“It’s the biggest derby for years, I can’t wait for this game,” Berbatov told Metro.co.uk.
“Everton will be thinking of Leicester from a few years ago. The team, as I have said, are in love with Ancelotti, he has transformed them. Liverpool have their problems, and Everton will have seen the Villa game.
“Ancelotti will know how to exploit those weakness now, and I think Everton can surprise Liverpool on Saturday.”
Should Everton take inspiration from Leicester City’s 2015/16 Premier League-winning squad, Ancelotti will have one performance in mind over the other as Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes beat Liverpool 2-0 at home in their February encounter.
However, Leicester were far from the dominant force that day as it was the Reds who rather held the upper hand, even though Klopp’s side would depart the King Power Stadium pointless.
Altogether, Liverpool dominated proceedings with 63.9% of all possession, with which they fashioned 14 shots, completed 12 of 20 attempted dribbles and found teammates with 438 of their 566 attempted passes, per WhoScored.
Leicester, meanwhile, made good use of their 36.1% possession to conjure 13 efforts on goal, even though they found retaining the ball a challenging task with Liverpool recording 30 successful tackles, winning 37 defensive aerial duels and dispossessing Foxes players on 18 occasions.
What allowed Leicester to deny their guests that day was an inspired backs-to-the-wall approach, that saw Ranieri’s side block eight of Liverpool’s 14 shots and only allow one single effort force Kasper Schmeichel into action.
Four years on from that defeat, Liverpool continue to be a strong side in possession having averaged the second-best time on the ball (58.3%) thus far this season, with which they turn into the Premier League’s most shots (18.8) a game.
Thus, if Everton are to take any inspiration from Leicester’s title-winning side as Berbatov has proposed, Ancelotti must ensure it is in forcing Liverpool into chances that have a low goal-scoring probability – especially given how Jordan Pickford performed last time out against Brighton in yet another blunder-ridden display.